Subunit c in the membrane-traversing F(0) sector of Escherichia coli ATP synthase is known to fold with two transmembrane helices and form an oligomeric ring of 10 or more subunits in the membrane. Models for the E. coli ring structure have been proposed based upon NMR solution structures and intersubunit cross-linking of Cys residues in the membrane. The E. coli models differ from the recent x-ray diffraction structure of the isolated Ilyobacter tartaricus c-ring. Furthermore, key cross-linking results supporting the E. coli model prove to be incompatible with the I. tartaricus structure. To test the applicability of the I. tartaricus model to the E. coli c-ring, we compared the cross-linking of a pair of doubly Cys substituted c-subunits, each of which was compatible with one model but not the other. The key finding of this study is that both A21C/M65C and A21C/I66C doubly substituted c-subunits form high yield oligomeric structures, c(2), c(3)... c(10), via intersubunit disulfide bond formation. The results indicate that helical swiveling, with resultant interconversion of the two conformers predicted by the E. coli and I. tartaricus models, must be occurring over the time course of the cross-linking experiment. In the additional experiments reported here, we tried to ascertain the preferred conformation in the membrane to help define the most likely structural model. We conclude that both structures must be able to form in the membrane, but that the helical swiveling that promotes their interconversion may not be necessary during rotary function.
"An alternative model of the mechanical cycle in F-type ATPases has recently been proposed by Dimroth et al.  , based on the structure of the rotor ring of the Na + -ATPase from Ilyobacter tartaricus. The main structural feature of this model is the presence of the ion binding glu-65 of c subunits facing towards the outer surface of the rotor ring, which suggests that a conformational change may not be necessary for generating torque for rotation of the F 0 c-ring   . Therefore, many questions still remain regarding the coupling between proton transport and rotational motion. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mitochondrial F(1)F(0)-ATPase was studied in lymphocytes from patients with neuropathy, ataxia, and retinitis pigmentosa (NARP), caused by a mutation at leu-156 in the ATPase 6 subunit. The mutation giving the milder phenotype (Leu156Pro) suffered a 30% reduction in proton flux, and a similar loss in ATP synthetic activity. The more severe mutation (Leu156Arg) also suffered a 30% reduction in proton flux, but ATP synthesis was virtually abolished. Oligomycin sensitivity of the proton translocation through F(0) was enhanced by both mutations. We conclude that in the Leu156Pro mutation, rotation of the c-ring is slowed but coupling of ATP synthesis to proton flux is maintained, whereas in the Leu156Arg mutation, proton flux appears to be uncoupled. Modelling indicated that, in the Leu156Arg mutation, transmembrane helix III of ATPase 6 is unable to span the membrane, terminating in an intramembrane helix II-helix III loop. We propose that the integrity of transmembrane helix III is essential for the mechanical function of ATPase 6 as a stator element in the ATP synthase, but that it is not relevant for oligomycin inhibition.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rotary catalysis in F1F0 ATP synthase is powered by proton translocation through the membrane-embedded F0 sector. Proton binding and release occurs in the middle of the membrane at Asp-61 on transmembrane helix 2 of subunit c. Previously, the reactivity of cysteines substituted into F0 subunit a revealed two regions of aqueous access, one extending from the periplasm to the middle of the membrane and a second extending
from the middle of the membrane to the cytoplasm. To further characterize aqueous accessibility at the subunit a-c interface, we have substituted Cys for residues on the cytoplasmic side of transmembrane helix 2 of subunit c and probed the accessibility to these substituted positions using thiolate-reactive reagents. The Cys substitutions tested
were uniformly inhibited by Ag+ treatment, which suggested widespread aqueous access to this generally hydrophobic region. Sensitivity to N-ethylmaleimide (NEM) and methanethiosulfonate reagents was localized to a membrane-embedded pocket surrounding Asp-61. The
cG58C substitution was profoundly inhibited by all the reagents tested, including membrane impermeant methanethiosulfonate
reagents. Further studies of the highly reactive cG58C substitution revealed that NEM modification of a single c subunit in the oligomeric c-ring was sufficient to cause complete inhibition. In addition, NEM modification of subunit c was dependent upon the presence of subunit a. The results described here provide further evidence for an aqueous-accessible region at the interface of subunits a and c extending from the middle of the membrane to the cytoplasm.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The rotational mechanism of ATP synthases requires a unique interface between the stator a subunit and the rotating c-ring to accommodate stability and smooth rotation simultaneously. The recently published c-ring crystal structure of the ATP synthase of Ilyobacter tartaricus represents the conformation in the absence of subunit a. However, in order to understand the dynamic structural processes during ion translocation, studies in the presence of subunit a are required. Here, by intersubunit Cys-Cys cross-linking, the relative topography of the interacting helical faces of subunits a and c from the I. tartaricus ATP synthase has been mapped. According to these data, the essential stator arginine (aR226) is located between the c-ring binding pocket and the cytoplasm. Furthermore, the spatially vicinal residues cT67C and cG68C in the isolated c-ring structure yielded largely asymmetric cross-linking products with aN230C of subunit a, suggesting a small, but significant conformational change of binding-site residues upon contact with subunit a. The conformational change was dependent on the positive charge of the stator arginine or the aR226H substitution. Energy-minimization calculations revealed possible modes for the interaction between the stator arginine and the c-ring. These biochemical results and structural restraints support a model in which the stator arginine operates as a pendulum, moving in and out of the binding pocket as the c-ring rotates along the interface with subunit a. This mechanism allows efficient interaction between subunit a and the c-ring and simultaneously allows almost frictionless movement against each other.
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